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In The Kitchen

Back-to-School Snacks and Lunch-Packing Hacks

It's time to think outside the (lunch) box and simplify your school snacks system

Plastic storage bins are displayed side by side on a kitchen countertop, each of which is filled with various snack items like cheesesticks, yogurt, fruit cups, nuts and other items. Play Video

As if mornings with young children weren’t stressful enough at times, nothing cranks up the chaos like realizing you forgot to pack their lunch as you’re heading out the door. Been there, done that.

That’s why we brought in our nutrition expert, Catherine Hill, RDN, LDN, to share tips for simple, nutritious snack options, a bin system for organizing goodies, as well as lunch-packing hacks that’ll save you time (and stress). Check out our video feature on back-to-school snacks, and continue reading below for tips and tricks to make school lunches and after-school snacks a snap!

Nutritious Snack Options

When it comes to nutritious food options, all you have to do is think about MyPlate. We want to look for a balanced, well-rounded snack or lunch to keep the little ones fueled throughout the day.

USDA My Plate program icon with the five main food groups listed: fruits, vegetables, grains, protein and dairy.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) provides dietary guidelines for people of all ages. Explore the five main food groups and discover your own personal MyPlate Plan!

Foods for the Fridge

Pantry Food Items

*Be sure to check if peanut butter is allowed at your child’s school. Sunflower butter is a great alternative option.

The Bin System

Now that you have the nutritious goodies and snacks lined up, it’s time to tackle the storage situation. Spending some time up front to create a system for storing and organizing your foods will save you significant time and angst down the road.

Materials and Containers

There are many different ways to package snacks and food items for lunch boxes. Think about materials you already have on hand. Remind your kids to bring home containers that can be reused to reduce waste. Some other ideas include:

Let’s Pack a Lunch!

Fall is coming, which means your kids are likely back in school and you’re in need of simple snack and lunch ideas. Find fast tips for healthy snack options that will make packing school lunches one of the easiest parts of your day!

TIP: When packing a school lunch, include a frozen bottled water, which can do double duty as both an ice pack and a drink once it thaws. Happy packing!

This segment of Homegrown In the Kitchen was filmed in the Dinah E. Gore Teaching and Research Kitchens at NC State University. The state-of-the-art kitchen complex was designed to enhance and extend our work in teaching, research and Extension. We appreciate their support!

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